How Online Students Can Tackle Technical Challenges at Home
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of students are beginning to transition to online learning and this can bring up a lot of technical issues. Video conferencing, streaming services, online gaming, and other high-impact data applications consume a lot of data. With millions of additional people now working and learning from home, this will start to put a strain on internet networks and eventually impact how students receive online instruction.
In response to this growing concern, we would like to share some advice from our sister school, SJVC, to make the transition with minimal disruption. Here are a few simple hacks to help deal with some of the most common technical problems at home:
- 1. Reposition your router. Is the router in some remote corner of your house? If so, consider moving it. Position your router towards the middle of your house, preferably on whichever floor you are using your computer. If you spend all your time working and videoconferencing in the living room on the first floor, put your router on that same level.
- 2. Reconsider Ethernet. Everybody uses Wi-Fi these days, but while wireless connections are convenient, they’re not as fast. Cabled connections like Ethernet will be faster and more reliable than wireless ones. The cable gets the signal directly to your device rather than relying on over-the-air transmissions. If you can, connect your most important devices to the internet via an Ethernet cable. Plus an Ethernet connection is also more secure than Wi-Fi.
- 3. Clear the “cache” on your internet browser. As you visit websites and enter information, browsers collect little bits of information about you and marketers use this data to send relevant ads based on your browsing behavior. If you’ve ever seen the same ad follow you around the internet, then you’re familiar with this concept.
To get rid of all those cookies and trackers, you have to clear the “cache” on your browser. You can do this manually or install a plugin that does it automatically. Make it a habit to clear your cache so all that accumulated data doesn’t affect your overall internet speeds.
- 4. Consider your data cap – another culprit of slow internet speeds. A data cap means you can use a certain amount of data every month— from a couple hundred megabytes to hundreds of gigabytes. If you exceed your data limit, your internet service provider (ISP) will restrict your internet speeds.
ISPs don’t advertise their data caps for obvious reasons, but they can mess with your connection. If you don’t know whether or not you have a data cap, check your bill. If you keep exceeding your data cap every month, talk to your provider about a plan with a higher data limit.
- 5. Run diagnostics checks. If you’re having general connection issues, not related to bandwidth, then consider running a network diagnostics check. For example, Windows has a tool called Windows Network Diagnostics that lets users troubleshoot connection issues. Go to Windows Settings– Network & Internet– Status. Under Change Your Network Settings, click Network Troubleshooter.
Windows Network Diagnostics will run a couple of tests to see what’s possibly causing connection issues, or let you know if it doesn’t find any issue. If there is a problem, you will be given a list of possible actions to take to resolve the issue. This tool should be available in every version from Windows 7 to Windows 10.
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